Top Summer Sandal Trends: From Elevated Flip Flops to Gladiator Must-Haves

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Summer is right around the corner. It’s time to put your ankle boots away for another season and splurge on summer sandals.

With the rise of athleisure and activewear, sandals have replaced stilettoes and open-toe heels as our summer go-to. Current fashion trends are all about putting comfort first. Is there anything more comfortable than a pair of sandals?

We’re rounding up all the top sandal trends for summer. After a year of wearing slippers and sneakers, it’s time to book in for a pedicure and treat ourselves to a new pair of sandals.

Elle Fanning, Hilary Duff, Lily Collins, and Bella Thorne wearing comfy summer sandalsElle Fanning, Hilary Duff, Lily Collins, and Bella Thorne wearing comfy summer sandals (Credit: WENN)

With temperatures rising and the beach calling, sandals are the only shoes you should wear this summer. Our ultimate style guide includes our top picks for sandals, so you can click ‘add to bag’ before these styles sell out.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about summer sandal trends, which ones to buy, and where to purchase them!

Unsurprisingly, most of the sandal trends are having a throwback moment. If you’ve scrolled through TikTok or Instagram, you’ll know that everything from the ’80s to the early 2000s is the current source of fashion inspiration.

You can expect to see lots of sandals you (or your aunties!) might have worn growing up. Grab a pen and take some notes!

Elevated Flip Flops: The Chic Transformation

Flip flops have evolved beyond just spa wear, shedding their overlooked status to become a stylish choice for various occasions.

Elevated flip flops featuring kitten heels by Michael Michael Kors, sleek design from Vince Camuto, and chic style by Marc FisherElevated flip flops featuring kitten heels by Michael Michael Kors, sleek design from Vince Camuto, and chic style by Marc Fisher

These sandals are unique, though. They take the ’90s flip-flop and add a kitten heel. We think these shoes are the perfect way to return to wearing heels without jumping in at the stiletto deep end.

Platform flip flops for a bold statement, including designs by DKNY, Stella McCartney's tubular-sole, and Osoi's boat leather platformsPlatform flip flops for a bold statement, including designs by DKNY, Stella McCartney’s tubular sole, and Osoi’s boat leather platforms

If you’re not ready to get back into heels (or if you’ve sworn off them!), swap the heel out for a platform sole. In these quirky flip-flop sandals, you can act like an extra from Legally Blonde.

2. Fisherman Sandals: The Comfort Comeback

The pandemic taught us the value of comfort in footwear, propelling fisherman sandals, once considered a ‘dad shoe,’ to this season’s must-have.

They are both stylish and functional, like a throwback to the shoes we would have worn as a kid.

Fisherman sandals in premium leather by Church's, To Boot New York's Santorini design, and The Row's minimalist takeFisherman sandals in premium leather by Church’s, To Boot New York’s Santorini design, and The Row’s minimalist take

You can find fisherman sandals that work for every budget, whether you prefer rubber or leather. These shoes have a low or flat heel, making them a must-have for summer vacations and beach trips.

What we love about this trend is that you can wear these shoes with anything. These sandals work with any outfit, whether a midi dress, maxi skirt, or denim shorts.

3. Birkenstock Sandals: Timeless Comfort Meets Fashion

Ah, the faithful Birkenstock sandals. They may have started as the OG ‘dad shoe,’ but they’ve become beloved by fashion bloggers across the spectrum.

Even Chanel has come out with their version of this trending sandal. You can find budget-friendly options from H&M or Zara or splurge for the originals by Birkenstock.

Classic Birkenstock sandals showcasing the Arizona two-strap, Gizeh T-strap, and Mayari sandal for effortless styleClassic Birkenstock sandals showcasing the Arizona two-strap, Gizeh T-strap, and Mayari sandal for effortless style

These sandals give casual chic a new look and add a touch of bohemian vibes to any outfit. Birkenstocks are another versatile sandal trend, and you can find them in different materials, from Velcro to leather and rubber.

Birkenstocks are shoes that bring together comfort and practical style. Whatever your mood is, these shoes will always be your summer go-to. If you can only pack one type of sandal for your summer vacation, you will want to take your Birkenstocks.

4. Puffy Square-Toe Heel Sandals: A Colorful Statement

Bottega Veneta has become one of the ‘it’ luxury brands of the moment, making a legendary comeback in the fashion world. Bottega has influenced almost every trend we’re seeing right now.

The padded and puffy heel sandals give you the best of both worlds—they have the look of a kitten heel and the functionality of a flip-flop.

Puffy square-toe heel sandals from Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta's BV Lido, and Steve Madden's Thai heeled designPuffy square-toe heel sandals from Proenza Schouler, Bottega Veneta’s BV Lido, and Steve Madden’s Thai heeled design

While Bottega is the brand behind the trend, everyone from Steve Madden to Zara and Proenza Schouler has released sandals in this style.

What we love about this trend is all the color it’s bringing to our closets. These sandals are available in every color of the rainbow, making them easy to incorporate into your wardrobe.

5. Logo Slides: From Poolside to Fashion Pride

The slide trend shows no sign of dying. Slides are the ultimate sandals for heading to the beach or spending the summer by the pool. Whatever your opinion on the ‘socks and slides’ debate, these shoes have gone from being a fad to a summer trend every year.

The most popular slides incorporate brand logos and monograms. These logo slides are everywhere, from Adidas to Gucci or Nike.

Trendy logo slides featuring Nike's Victori, Gucci's Agrado Interlocking G, and Adidas' Adilette Aqua for poolside chicTrendy logo slides featuring Nike’s Victori, Gucci’s Agrado Interlocking G, and Adidas’ Adilette Aqua for poolside chic

Whatever your budget is, you can add slides to your closet. There is a pair for everyone to match your aesthetic and style. Slides are easy slip-on shoes that you can leave next to your lounger at the pool or throw into your overnight bag.

6. Colorful Sandals: Brighten Your Step

If one thing unites all the sandal trends, it’s color. The brighter the color palette, the better. We’re seeing signature summer colors boldly come back with sandals this year. Our favorites include bubblegum pink, mellow yellow, and sea blue.

When it comes to choosing the right colorful sandals, you want to choose a shade that complements your closet.

Vibrant summer-ready sandals with Nine West's lime green, Ancient Greek's Ikaria jelly, and Carlotha Ray's scented orange flip flopsVibrant summer-ready sandals with Nine West’s lime green, Ancient Greek’s Ikaria jelly, and Carlotha Ray’s scented orange flip flops

Sandals are shoes you’ll wear all summer long, so it’s worth investing in a pair to last the season. You can match your sandals to your signature color palette or choose a shade that will ‘pop’ against your go-to summer looks.

If there’s any time of the year to experiment with color, it’s summer. Along with colors, it’s worth checking out prints, including stripes and polka dots. The more of a statement the sandals make, the better!

7. Gladiator Sandals: Elegance With an Edge

Amina Muaddi is one shoe designer we always go to for inspiration. If there’s one silhouette she’s known for, it’s gladiator sandals. This trend is so popular because there are two ways of rocking it.

You can stick to the classic gladiator style or make it sultrier by taking the straps up your legs and adding a kitten heel.

Striking gladiator sandals from Amina Muaddi x AWGE LSD embellished, Free People's Anya, and Sam Edelman's JamilaStriking gladiator sandals from Amina Muaddi x AWGE LSD embellished, Free People’s Anya, and Sam Edelman’s Jamila

If you’re celebrating or want to make a statement, take a leaf from Amina Muaddi’s book and choose a crystal pair. These sandals will add a touch of drama to any look. If sparkles aren’t your preference, you can keep it classic with tan leather gladiator sandals.

Gladiator sandals are the perfect way to return to wearing heels after the pandemic and a year of wearing sneakers. With gladiator sandals, you don’t have to worry about slipping out of your heels or running around in sky-high stilettoes.

These sandals add a touch of romanticism to any look and are a minimalistic alternative to court heels for a casual wedding or family event.

8. Kitten-Heeled Mules: Elegance for Every Occasion

Mules are the ultimate dressed-up sandal. They’re the shoes you want to reach for before a night on the town or when celebrating a birthday or big event.

These shoes are perfect for brunch; you can dress them up or down depending on your lifestyle.

Elegant kitten-heeled mules by By Far Lana, Rejina Pyo's black leather, and Wandler's Ava design for versatile wearElegant kitten-heeled mules by By Far Lana, Rejina Pyo’s black leather, and Wandler’s Ava design for versatile wear

Open-toe mules are the go-to choice for elevated summer shoes. If you’ve got a summer wedding coming up, these are the shoes you want to splurge on.

9. Barely There Sandals: Subtle Elegance

When you’re wearing sandals, it can feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. If you’re a fan of fake tan or have a sun-kissed glow, these sandals will accentuate your summer color and add a seductive twist to your look.

The barely-there straps will elongate your legs, whether you choose a kitten heel or a higher heel. With this trend, you have two options. You can choose a skin tone shade for a minimalistic look and add a ballerina pink polish or go all out with vibrant colors.

Barely there sandals for a minimalist look by Sergio Rossi, Stuart Weitzman's Ellsie strappy, and Schutz's Desta sandalBarely there sandals for a minimalist look by Sergio Rossi, Stuart Weitzman’s Ellsie strappy, and Schutz’s Desta sandal

This trend first jumped onto the scene in 2019 and was the ‘it’ show of the season, making a major comeback. Choosing a style with fewer straps can make these shoes easier to wear.

The simplicity of these shoes has made them a timeless summer sandal trend. Whatever your aesthetic, you can incorporate these shoes into your summer closet.